To The Moon

To The Moon

Ever since I started twitch streaming, I’ve been on the lookout for some awesome indie games because let’s face it; my laptop is nowhere near good enough to play the latest games, let alone run a livestream on the side. During this search, I came across To The Moon, a 2D exploration game(sort of) made by Freebird games.

To The Moon puts us in the shoes of Dr. Neil Watts, one of the duo who go to visit Johnny Wyles, a dying man with a wish to go to the moon. The wish is made even more inexplicable by the fact that even Johnny doesn’t know why he wants to go there, in the first place. However, that wasn’t something that Neil and his partner, Dr. Eva Rosalene, should worry about. As employees of Sigmund Corp., their job is to fulfill Johnny’s dying wish by implanting memories into his mind using some revolutionary technology. So no matter how weird they found Johnny’s situation, it wasn’t something they had to overly worry about; just accomplish whatever they came to this rural settlement for, then leave the man to die in peace. And on to the next job.

But when Eva and Neil go into Johnny’s memories and cause some alterations to push him towards becoming an astronaut, they find out that no matter how much they tried, their attempts ended in failure. And amongst all this was his deceased wife, River Wyles, who had an eccentric habit of making paper rabbits during the later stages of her life. What was the relationship dynamic between River and Johnny, really?  And what is with that lighthouse? Most importantly, why were they facing these unanticipated difficulties in altering Johnny’s memories? Telling you more would only end up spoiling the story for you guys, so just play it and find out for yourself.

                                             If you don’t make this too hard, then of course…

The plot of To The Moon is rock-solid, I must say. The way it progresses from the present to Johnny’s memories over his life time was done really well, and some events threaten to bring tears to your eyes. However the gameplay itself is uninspiring, to say the least. We just go around collecting a certain number of interactable objects, then find a memento, solve a small puzzle and use the memento to get further into Johnny’s past life. Not so great gameplay-wise. However, this mechanic works well in establishing how certain objects have left an indelible impression on Johnny. The soundtrack is amazing though, I must say. A game like this needs an appropriate soundtrack to set the mood of the player, and To The Moon, I’m glad to say, has done the job well. And wait, I almost forgot to say this : the dialogue is awesome. The banter between Neil and Eva often will make you laugh out loud, and serves to establish not only their personalities, but also their camaraderie.

So, do I recommend To The Moon? Hell yes I do, especially if you’re a fan of indie games and story-driven games. Just go for it already!

RATING : 9/10

PROS :
– great story
– awesome soundtrack
– main characters’ conversations are so funny

CONS :
– gameplay itself is uninteresting

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

Nocturnal Animals [2016]

I finished watching Nocturnal Animals about an hour ago. And I must confess, it was a mind-screw type of film in some aspects. Best thing about it, is I’ve always liked such films. Also, I’m a sucker for Jake Gyllenhaal’s films; they always have the element of the psychological in them. Does this film by Tom Ford match up to those other films I like?

Susan Morrow is an insomniac; can’t sleep at night even if she put her heart and soul into it unless sleeping pills are also popped in concert with that glass of water she’s just had. But Susan’s problems are not just confined to insomnia, her personal and professional life[she’s an art gallery owner] both have started feeling really dull and unsatisfactory to her. But things start changing when she receives a manuscript of a novel her ex-husband had been working on for some time. The name of the novel? Nocturnal Animals. As she starts reading the novel, she is drawn deeper and deeper into the story, to the point where she is so immersed that something happening in the outside world would startle her back to life.

This is how the movie starts off. Once Susan begins reading the novel, a new phase of the film begins; the film now keeps switching between Susan and the happenings in the novel she’s reading. In the novel, Tony Hastings is out with his wife Laura and their daughter India for a camping trip out in Western Texas. But during the night, an altercation between the holidaying family and a group of delinquents turns unsavory, and quickly the situation turns horribly wrong. So basically, on the one hand the viewer sees Susan leading her mundane life with the regular staff meetings and discussions and such; on the other hand a thriller is playing out with Tony trying his best to keep his family safe.

                                                            This guy is freakin’ intense…

The plot is pretty much on point here, and the way the two arcs are handled deserves special praise; nowhere does it feel like either one of them is dragging. Also the reminiscences Susan has about her past life, are also well melded into the storytelling. Also, the eerie atmosphere of the novel when contrasted with Susan’s elaborate living conditions, makes for some sudden but great transitions between the novel and real life. Acting deserves special mention in this film; my man Jake Gyllenhaal does it again, as he has done so so many times. His double act as the novelist ex-husband Edward Sheffield and the terrified  family man Tony Hastings makes for a great watch. So is Isla Fisher’s Laura, Tony’s wife in the novel. But my personal favorite in this film was Amy Adams, who played the insomnia-ridden Susan. She is amazing in every which way throughout the film. By the way, watch out for Aaron Taylor-Johnson too, he’s the X-factor for this movie. He’s the most psychopathic character I’ve seen since Jake’s Nightcrawler, I think.

So, what do I say? If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely love this film. Although I must say, Nocturnal Animals seems like a film which will lead to polarizing opinions from the viewers. Let me know how you felt about the film.

RATING : 8.8/10

PROS :
– plot progression is neat
– smooth transitions
– great acting all over
– mind-screw

CONS :
– not for everyone

AJIN [SEASON 2]

AJIN [SEASON 2]

The second season of Ajin finished airing just about ten days ago. Those of you who haven’t yet caught up on the anime after the season one cliffhanger, get ready to jump on the hype train! [Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen S1]

So the first season ended with Nagai Kei and his new companion Nakano Kou making a break and escaping the clutches of Tosaki and Shimomura. And in the meantime, Satou has issued an ultimatum to the Japanese government to include provisions for ajin to be treated as normal human beings, and to stop using them as guinea pigs for experimentation. The alternative being that Satou and his fellow ajin go after 15 officials who are the main culprits regarding this matter. The second season picks up from there, with Satou beginning to make good on his promise. On the other end, Nagai and Nakano want to stop Satou from executing his master plan, but they are severely lacking on manpower. Nagai comes up with the idea of pairing up with one of the main officials in secret so that this issue ceases to remain an issue anymore. And guess who that is… Tosaki himself!

Image result for ajin satou

                                                                  Way too OP…

The story is pretty fast paced, as it was in the first season. And it doesn’t waste time in pleasantries of any sort. The action keeps moving from Satou’s perspective to that of Nagai and Tosaki, and these switches have been handled well, so that the viewer is not distracted in the least. And as it was in the previous season, the action scenes are amazing; especially the ones where Satou goes berserk in killing people, they are truly badass moments in the show. The characters have been further developed, and some backstory for Tosaki and Shimomura comes in too. Nagai and Co. are great, no doubt about that. But my favorite character would be Satou, as is only to be expected. The guy says so many awesome things in his trademark nonchalant style; the writers did a fantastic job with this particular role. It’s as if he is the anime version of Vaas from FarCry 3. And just in case you don’t know this guy, let’s just say he is still the best villain I’ve seen in a game yet.

The only real issue with Ajin is the same as it was with the first season; the frame rates. I know that the production crew decided to do it the hard way and make it a 3D animated show, and I laud them for it. The actions are remarkably human-like, as a result. But more than occasionally, you’re left trying to see if you can differentiate one frame from another during some of the quieter moments of the show. Other than that, the show is pretty slick.

In conclusion, I would personally recommend Ajin to anyone who watches anime, and have done it on numerous occasions already. If for nothing else, just for the amazingly haunting background score that plays at the beginning and end of each episode…

RATING : 9/10

PROS :
– good plot pacing
– action scenes are even cooler
– amazing background score
– Satou-san OP
– improved 3DCG

CONS :
– frame rate is still a bit unsatisfactory

 

 

 

 

 

The Chaser(2008)

The Chaser(2008)

I have said it before, and I will say it again; Korean films are a blast to watch. Not because they are entertaining or fun; no one who has seen movies like Memories of Murder or Oldboy will say anything contrary to my statement. No, they are a blast because they are really intense pieces of art, which will make you question everything and assume not a single thing. Or maybe it’s just my awesome choice at picking out the cream of the Korean offerings, but anyways. Let’s get into The Chaser now, without further ado.

The film begins with the former Task Force detective-turned-pimp sending out one of his girls for business, if you know what I mean. But the guy is also getting paranoid about his state of affairs, as two of his call girls have quite probably just escaped without giving him any information of their whereabouts. He wants to tighten up his protocol to ensure these incidents do not repeat in the future. Unluckily, the girl who the pimp has just sent out, is also on her way to meet him. I don’t think I will be able to tell you readers any more about the plot, as some key details might be spoilt for those of you who wish to see the film. But I can assure you of one thing; it is pretty twisted and messed-up on a different level.

                                                                           The chase is on!

This is a different kind of film from the normal, as we already know the antagonist at the outset itself. Something I haven’t often seen in the suspense thriller genre. The screenplay ought to be tight, which is a requirement for this type of film, and thankfully the film delivers on that front. Also, this is quite possibly the Korean film with the fastest pacing I’ve seen yet. And the acting is spot-on, I must say. All the characters are fully fleshed out, from the pimp to the antagonist to the call girl and her kid daughter, to the police.  It is as if they are living in their roles. That might seem a bit cliche, but that is god’s honest truth. And the story is based on some real-life events, which honestly does throw up some red flags about the existence of hope in this world. This is some really depressing shit.

Overall, I’d say this: if you have watched a few Korean film, chances are you’ve watched this already. If you haven’t, guess what; it’s time for you to do yourself a favor already. And those of you who don’t[or haven’t yet] watched Korean suspense thrillers yet, this is a great way to initiate yourself into it.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– top-notch acting
– insane pacing
– pretty dark and disturbing

CONS :
– may be too dark for some

 

JACK REACHER : NEVER GO BACK

JACK REACHER : NEVER GO BACK

The much-awaited movie sequel of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series is back again, with Tome Cruise reprising his role as The Man. This time with Lee’s book Never Go Back as the source material. And since this film has released a week after Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, it is only fair to say that there are going to be comparisons between the two, what with both being of the same genre. So how does Jack Reacher 2 fare?

Never Go Back begins with ex-MP Jack Reacher going to visit Major Susan Turner, only to find out there that she has been arrested for leaking army secrets to the enemy, and is to be tried by the army court for espionage. Also, Jack is informed of a paternity lawsuit which had been filed against him during his absence. Leaving the lawsuit aside, Jack Reacher tries to find out more details about the warrant against Maj. Turner from her lawyer. And thus he discovers the reasons behind Turner’s arrest; the deaths of two officers under her command in the Middle East under shady circumstances. The true shocker comes next; the lawyer gets murdered by an unknown person, and the blame ends up falling on Reacher. Now Jack Reacher has to find some evidence to exonerate him and Turner from any crimes, while at the same time searching for the real killers.

Image result for jack reacher 2

Now, I myself have read only Killing Floor by Lee Child, but if that book is anything to go by, then I’m forced to infer that the plot has been dumbed down by a substantial extent. In this respect, I think the first film Jack Reacher was way better in terms of atmosphere and story than the sequel. Never Go Back could have been so much better if it hadn’t tried to pull off what seemed like a way too convoluted story which wasn’t really getting anywhere, to be honest.

Far as acting is concerned, Tom Cruise in the titular role of Reacher does a good job of course, but again, I liked him better in the first installment. And the Mission Impossible series, if I can count that too. Cobie Smulders as Maj. Susan Turner gets a substantial role in the film, and does a nice job too. Danika Yarosh as Reacher’s daughter[or not] does well too, although some of her actions in the film itself seem borderline retarded, which makes her character come across as somewhat of a pain in the backside sometimes. There isn’t much to complain about regarding the film’s antagonist either, played by Patrick Heusinger. Overall, I’m getting at the fact that acting isn’t an issue in this film. And the action scenes and stunts are probably some of the better parts of the movie. I especially liked the sound of the guns blasting away; it was reminiscent of Battlefield games, which are famous for their sound effects, if nothing else.

So, how does Jack Reacher : Never Go Back compare to other movies of the same genre? That is the film’s true weak point; it isn’t different enough from other action thrillers to stand on its own. Watch the film if you are a Tom Cruise fan; and don’t watch it if you have read the book already because I’m assuming it must have been way better than the film, what with the plot elements feeling toned down way too much and all.

RATING : 6.9/10

PROS :
– good acting
– solid action scenes and sound effects

CONS :
– story feels too unnecessarily convoluted and dumber down at the same time
– not too different from other action films
– first installment was way better

 

 

THE PEOPLE VS O.J.SIMPSON : AMERICAN CRIME STORY

THE PEOPLE VS O.J.SIMPSON : AMERICAN CRIME STORY

After watching Making A Murderer, my interest was piqued regarding similar real-life incidents that shook the world. And I hit on this show by FX.

The year is 1994. Nicole Simpson, O.J’s ex-wife, and her friend Ronald Goldman, a waiter, are killed at Nicole’s house one night. Some of the police set off to notify O.J Simpson of his ex-wife’s death, but he is nowhere to be found. At the same time, preliminary evidence-gathering puts O.J in the vicinity of the crime scene, and on subsequent analysis O.J’s blood is found at the crime scene, along with that of the victims’. When the cops try to arrest O.J, he absconds with his friend A.C. Cowlings in his white Ford Bronco, and leads the police on a long-spanning low-speed chase, with O.J.Simpson threatening to blow his head off if he is arrested. After O.J and the police arrive at a compromise, he is taken into custody, and soon enough what will be known as the Trial of the Century starts up. Marcia Clark is handed over the reins for the prosecution’s case against O.J, while Robert Shapiro takes over as the lead attorney for the O.J.Simpson defense. Follow them as they build their case against each other, while more attorney are added to both of the teams as the show moves on forward.

Absolutely, 100% not guilty!!!

Regarding the setting of ACS, I can’t really say if it was faithfully recreated as I’m neither an American, nor was I around when all this stuff took place, but I’ll go along with it. But I must say, the acting was really awesome; my personal favorite was Courtney B Vance’s portrayal of Johnnie Cochran and Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark, they were absolutely phenomenal, if I may say so. And so was Sterling K Brown’s passionate performance in the role of Christopher Darden. And even if David Schwimmer and John Travolta may not appear for very long, they were  great as well. Only thing is, I’m doubtful about Cuba Gooding Jr. being cast in the titular role O.J “The Juice” Simpson. He does come across as a wee bit whiny and needy at times. And the pacing of ACS? That’s one thing you needn’t worry about, seeing as it never lets up at all.

Overall, if you are a fan of real-life documentaries and shows based on true incidents, this must definitely be on your radar. And even if you are not, still give it a try; it’s a great show, after all.

RATING : 8.6/10

PROS :
– great adaptation
– stellar acting
– good pacing

CONS :
– titular character comes across as a whiner sometimes

 

 

MAKING A MURDERER

MAKING A MURDERER

Netflix has got it going on with really smart and thoughtful shows, I must say. I don’t really watch TV series much, but whatever offerings I’ve seen from Netflix have all been quality stuff. With the same confidence, I began watching Making A Murderer, a real-life thriller incident; the show spanning over ten years in the time-line. So, how good is it?

Steven Avery was a 23-year-old man convicted of rape and attempted murder in 1985, and was sentenced for thirty years in prison. But eighteen years into serving his sentence, DNA testing of the crime-scene evidence conclusively proves Avery’s innocence, and in fact proves that another convict was guilty of the crime Avery was jailed so long for. Looking into the case also shows many discrepancies in evidence-gathering and investigation by the police, and the corrupt nature of the local law enforcement is exposed. Avery is finally released in 2003.

Understandably pissed-off at the county police, Steven Avery sues them for $36 million, and begins preparing for the lawsuit. But within a few months, Avery is once again the prime suspect, this time for an even bigger crime, that of murder. The show takes the viewers through this high-profile case which made national headlines during its day, with the circumstances being all the more bizarre this time around. And this time, the county police seem to have caught him cold. What really happened? And who is the murderer? These are only a few of the questions we viewers are faced with at the beginning of the show, and some of them have not been answered, yet.

This show is a documentary of the events that transpired before and during the case, with the show looking mainly at the defense argument for the case. And as such, Making A Murderer makes use of only real-life footage, ranging from news clippings to court proceedings to interrogation and investigation footage. Not to forget the voice-overs and comments from the actual players in the case; the prosecution, the defense lawyers, the defendant Steven Avery and his family members, the witnesses and such. I like the fact that none of the events have been actual footage by the makers, as it really helps in maintaining the authenticity of the show. Also it must have saved the makers a lot of money, but that’s another matter entirely and is not worth our consideration.

And let’s get down to the business end of it; is the show any good? You bet. This is probably the best show I’ve seen in recent times, and if I have to compare, it is as intense as the final two seasons of Breaking Bad. In fact, Making A Murderer is so intense in its content that you’d want to binge-watch the whole show.  However this is almost impossible as emotions take over the viewers all the time, and may leave you too pissed-off at some of the incidents and the people, to the point where you really will need a break from the show. Also, kudos to the screen-writers  for maintaining the pacing of the show at a swift, trotting pace,so to speak. In these kinds of shows, it is very easy to mess up and drag out some events, or rush through others, but I’m glad to see the show not fall into the same old trap.

Overall, I would say Making A Murderer is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched until now. Those of you guys who want to believe in the criminal justice system, please watch this show at your own peril, as your trust may find itself getting eroded by the happenings.

RATING : 10/10

PROS :
– effective use of live footage
– intense and atmospheric
– great pacing

CONS :
– will probably make you lose faith in the justice system